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Taibbi: Democrats Have Abandoned Civil Liberties

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Taibbi: Democrats Have Abandoned Civil Liberties

Emmet G. Sullivan, the judge in the case of former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, is refusing to let William Barr’s Justice Department drop the charge. He’s even thinking of adding more, appointing a retired judge to ask “whether the Court should issue an Order to Show Cause why Mr. Flynn should not be held in criminal contempt for perjury.”

Pundits are cheering. A trio of former law enforcement and judicial officials saluted Sullivan in the Washington Post, chirping, “The Flynn case isn’t over until a judge says it’s over.” Yuppie icon Jeffrey Toobin of CNN and the New Yorker, one of the #Resistance crowd’s favored legal authorities, described Sullivan’s appointment of Judge John Gleeson as “brilliant.” MSNBC legal analyst Glenn Kirschner said Americans owe Sullivan a “debt of gratitude.”

One had to search far and wide to find a non-conservative legal analyst willing to say the obvious, i.e. that Sullivan’s decision was the kind of thing one would expect from a judge in Belarus. George Washington University professor Jonathan Turley was one of the few willing to say Sullivan’s move could “could create a threat of a judicial charge even when prosecutors agree with defendants.”

Sullivan’s reaction was amplified by a group letter calling for Barr’s resignation signed by 2000 former Justice Department officials (the melodramatic group email somberly reported as momentous news is one of many tired media tropes in the Trump era) and the preposterous “leak” of news that the dropped case made Barack Obama sad. The former president “privately” told “members of his administration” (who instantly told Yahoo! News) that there was no precedent for the dropping of perjury charges, and that the “rule of law” itself was at stake.

Whatever one’s opinion of Flynn, his relations with Turkey, his “Lock her up!” chants, his haircut, or anything, this case was never about much. There’s no longer pretense that prosecution would lead to the unspooling of a massive Trump-Russia conspiracy, as pundits once breathlessly expected. In fact, news that Flynn was cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller inspired many of the “Is this the beginning of the end for Trump?” stories that will someday fill whole chapters of Journalism Fucks Up 101 textbooks.

The acts at issue are calls Flynn made to Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak on December 29th, 2016 in which he told the Russians not to overreact to sanctions. That’s it. The investigation was about to be dropped, but someone got the idea of using electronic surveillance of the calls to leverage a case into existence.

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from Emmet G. Sullivan, the judge in the case of former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, is refusing to let William Barr’s Justice Department drop the charge. He’s even thinking of adding more, appointing a retired judge to ask “whether the Court should issue an Order to Show Cause why Mr. Flynn should not be held in criminal contempt for perjury.”

Pundits are cheering. A trio of former law enforcement and judicial officials saluted Sullivan in the Washington Post, chirping, “The Flynn case isn’t over until a judge says it’s over.” Yuppie icon Jeffrey Toobin of CNN and the New Yorker, one of the #Resistance crowd’s favored legal authorities, described Sullivan’s appointment of Judge John Gleeson as “brilliant.” MSNBC legal analyst Glenn Kirschner said Americans owe Sullivan a “debt of gratitude.”

One had to search far and wide to find a non-conservative legal analyst willing to say the obvious, i.e. that Sullivan’s decision was the kind of thing one would expect from a judge in Belarus. George Washington University professor Jonathan Turley was one of the few willing to say Sullivan’s move could “could create a threat of a judicial charge even when prosecutors agree with defendants.”

Sullivan’s reaction was amplified by a group letter calling for Barr’s resignation signed by 2000 former Justice Department officials (the melodramatic group email somberly reported as momentous news is one of many tired media tropes in the Trump era) and the preposterous “leak” of news that the dropped case made Barack Obama sad. The former president “privately” told “members of his administration” (who instantly told Yahoo! News) that there was no precedent for the dropping of perjury charges, and that the “rule of law” itself was at stake.

Whatever one’s opinion of Flynn, his relations with Turkey, his “Lock her up!” chants, his haircut, or anything, this case was never about much. There’s no longer pretense that prosecution would lead to the unspooling of a massive Trump-Russia conspiracy, as pundits once breathlessly expected. In fact, news that Flynn was cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller inspired many of the “Is this the beginning of the end for Trump?” stories that will someday fill whole chapters of Journalism Fucks Up 101 textbooks.

The acts at issue are calls Flynn made to Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak on December 29th, 2016 in which he told the Russians not to overreact to sanctions. That’s it. The investigation was about to be dropped, but someone got the idea of using electronic surveillance of the calls to leverage a case into existence.

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